Once upon a time, a Moroccan Sultan was murdered as he was planning an alliance against the Ottomans (the Turkish Empire). His son, Abdallah al-Ghalib, took over and was planning to eliminate his own brothers too, so they had to run away under protection of the Ottoman Empire, their names were Al-Malik and Al-Mansur.
After 17 years al Ghalib died and his son Abdallah Mohammed took over the power. His sultanate only lasted for 2 years as his uncle al-Malik returned with the help of Ottoman forces and conquered the Moroccan throne.
Mohammed was feeling lost but he wasn’t going to give up on the throne so easily!
So he went to Portugal to ask the young King Sebastian I for help to defeat his uncle and re-conquer the throne. It was August of the year 1578 and they embarked in the mission that ended in a battle known as the Battle of Alcacer-Quibiz, also known as the Battle of the Three Kings, where both Al-Malik and Mohammed died, and King Sebastian was never found…
Al-Mansur, the younger brother of Al-Malik, became the Saadi Sultan of Morocco and to celebrate the victory against the Portuguese he built this Palace, El Badi, meaning the Incomparable:
Wow. I remember from History classes the story about King Sebastian and how he was missed. Now I am upon the other side of the story and thinking that this palace is a celebration for the death of 26 000 portuguese is somehow disturbing… But this place is enormous… despite it’s degradation, in some parts we can still feel how majestic it was!
Our next stop is the Saadian Tombs… and History continuous! In time where some places in Europe were facing a lack of sugar, the Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur saw the opportunity for business: so he exchanged sugar for the same weigh in expensive marble, that he used to decorate the tombs for himself and his family. His favorites chancellors and servants were also given a place in the garden. The Sultan al-Mansur died in 1603 and has been resting here with other members of the Saadi Dynasty. This place has been forgotten until 1917 when was revealed accidently by an aerial photograph. It was only 10 Dirhams to enter and it’s really different from what I have seen before:
Many say the cats are protecting this place and after being chased by these little kitties, we are back on the streets!
The sound of the call for the prayers is well heard all over the city. Thousands of Muslims walk to the Mosque, remove their shoes and walk in. The Koutoubia Mosque is the biggest in Marrakech! Non-muslims aren’t allowed in, but we can appreciate the beauty of it’s architecture from the outside. Its Mineret is the icon of Marrakech and can be seen miles away.
We head to our next stop: the Bahia Palace, built in the 19th century… every room is more beautiful then the previous one and easily we end up lost in this labyrinth of courtyards and rooms, another door leading to another room leading to another courtyard. The tiles change colors and the ceilings are an art exposition from room to room. Very beautiful!
After lunch, we head into the souks, this time looking for the Museum of Marrakech… it was easy to find as it wasn’t too far from our first Riad.
The polite man behind the cabin sold us the tickets for 60Dh per peson, same ticket let us in the Ben Youssef Medersa Koran School and the Museum of Marrakech.
The Ben Youssef Medersa is a koranic school, built in the 15th century. It has 130 students dormitories with little windows facing the central courtyard, where a small pool was used for washing or cleansing of the body. The architecture is simply splendorous!
I’m certainly in love with the Islamic and Moroccan decor printed in these walls, floors and ceilings. It’s magic and in someway it made me feel like princess Jasmine from Aladdin. If only I had found the lamp…